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The Unruly Notion of Abuse of Rights


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Table of Contents

1. Matters of nomenclature; 2. An idealistic but troublesome impulse; 3. A cacophony of criteria; 4. A 'principle' with no rules?; 5. The challenge of establishing universal principles; 6. The Politis/Lauterpacht quest to elevate abuse of right; 7. Rejection and retrenchment; 8. The vanishing prospect.

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Challenges the claim to elevate the theory of abuse of rights to the status of a general principle of law.

About the Author

Jan Paulsson is Emeritus Professor at the School of Law of the University of Miami, and a former Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has served as President of the London Court of International Arbitration, the International Council for Commercial Arbitration, and the World Bank Administrative Tribunal; and as a Vice-President of the ICC International Court of Arbitration. He is a Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. He is the author of The Idea of Arbitration (2013) and Denial of Justice in International Law (2005).


'With precision and passion, Paulsson challenges a shibboleth of international law.' W. Michael Reisman, Professor, Yale Law School
'Paulsson's characteristic insistence that - in Holmes' phrase - we must think things, not words, and his willingness to puncture conventional wisdom, all make this a vital read for anyone concerned with the nature of law; characteristically, too, this is at the same time erudite and readable, clear-headed and quotable.' Alan Scott Rau, Professor Emeritus, University of Texas School of Law
'Some may describe this book as iconoclastic. I say simply: legal theory at its best.' Francisco Gonzales de Cossio, Arbitrator and Professor, Universidad Iberoamericana and Escuela Libre de Derecho, Mexico
'Unprincipled and unstructured pleas of abuse of rights will not survive the publication of this book.' Zachary Douglas QC, Institut de hautes etudes internationales et du developpement (Geneva)
'I strongly recommend this book, supremely sharp on technical reasoning and sensitive to challenges and limitations of the reality of international dispute settlement that the author knows so well. Whether the reader finds themselves largely persuaded by Paulsson's argument, as I was, they will certainly be intellectually enriched from reading the treatment of an important topic by one of the great figures of modern international dispute settlement. The essentially simultaneous publication in autumn 2020 of The Unruly Notion of Abuse of Rights and the merits judgment of the ICJ in Immunities and Criminal Proceedings puts the book under review in the rare category of perfectly timed scholarship that independently captures the substance of the leading judgment, explains the intellectual backstory of a key concept, and is likely to significantly shape future developments in the field.' Martins Paparinskis, Arbitration International

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